Magic, and Budbod

I drifted in and out of sleep in the shuttle on our way to Angono. I didn’t notice the traffic that might have clogged the streets, nor the landmarks that would help me find my way later on.

We had just come from a hearty meal at a German restaurant. You would think that a pause would be in order. That’s what normal people do. We were impulsive that day.

I groggily stepped out of the shuttle with Yedy and Eugene. I had to regain my bearings for a minute to realize that we alighted at the entrance of a quaint subdivision called Aurora. There weren’t a lot of people on the streets. A guy with his cigarette, a mother with her baby, and a few kids. Walking a good two blocks to our destination was uneventful. Was the journey going to be anticlimactic?

The street we walked into wasn’t a beehive but you could tell it has its own flurry of activity. Then the tarpaulin I saw on Yedy’s instagram was right before my eyes and it confirmed our destination. Welcome to Dency’s. We were in Budbod country.
 photo P1570975_zps5d19fad7.jpg

What was once a quaint space (a small carinderia with monobloc chairs) is now a larger house (painted yellow!), with an even larger, tiled space that could fit around fifteen to twenty people. It is quite possibly the house that budbod built.
 photo P1570916_zps79c935d9.jpg
 photo P1570917_zpsa5953931.jpg

Budbod is what you call the rice dish that’s been topped/sprinkled (binudbod) with meat, tomatoes, spring onions, sometimes egg, sometimes anything goes. It’s a noun and a verb. A simple rice meal, basically. And the way Yedy and Euge (both of them hail from the surrounding area) gush about it shows it’s rice that tugs a few heartstrings. They grew up eating the stuff. And they took it upon themselves to introduce this small town boy to a little piece of their shared history.

This wasn’t my first encounter with budbod though. My co-intern at the restaurant is from Rizal and one time she brought individually portioned styro packs of budbod and it had beef, lumpia, tomatoes and chives. It’s a family recipe, and I’m not sure how it compares to what we were going to have.

I grew and grew up eating rice with no other name. In their neck of the woods this meal is an icon. But why is it such a big deal? Why the fuss?

“Sago’t gulaman”, Yedy tells the jolly server. It’s the preamble before the main event. The cleanse before the deluge.
 photo P1570928_zps5bebcc83.jpg

Our order arrives in plastic bowls with a lid on, reminiscent of how Chowking (a fast food chain I unabashedly favor) serves their rice.
 photo P1570936_zps6b288a8c.jpg
 photo P1570938_zpsc2d30222.jpg
 photo P1570939_zps4929d73f.jpg

I take the lid off mine and a hint of adobo wafts out. The chopped beef must have been braised in soy sauce and vinegar before it was fried. Fresh tomatoes, chopped spring onions and a smidgen of scrambled egg accompany the meat. It’s a disproportionate ratio – there is definitely more rice. And the rice has been fried and taken on a color that suggests a dash of soy sauce was added. It’s nothing fancy.
 photo P1570962_zpsed36f470.jpg

There is no ritual. After staring at my bowl hungrily in between taking photographs, I grabbed my utensils and took a heaping spoonful of rice, beef and egg (I’m not a fan of eating fresh tomatoes with rice so I set it aside.).

I tasted tender beef, with a gentle acidity and more pronounced salinity. In my gut there’s more to it than just soy sauce and vinegar. A little bit of sugar, or Knorr seasoning even? I may be wrong. The rice was seasoned and made the perfect partner.
 photo P1570955_zps0f392d9a.jpg

There are no bells and whistles. It’s not ingenuous. But it hits the spot for sure.

“Is this it?”, I caught myself asking that question more than once. I admit my enthusiasm wasn’t as overflowing as theirs.

I asked the server for a side order of pork cooked the same way as the beef. At that time I preferred the pork over the beef. Also, a sunny egg.
 photo P1570969_zps07e8eca5.jpg

It was almost sundown when we were done polishing off our bowls. I was filled to the brim but had this nagging feeling that there has to be something more than what I ate. Rationalizing, maybe the history they share with budbod magnified its appeal. Maybe that was something I couldn’t fully understand. Food and memories, time and space, was that it? Or maybe I should just shut up and just eat.

It was a long ride back home. I drifted in and out of sleep again.

And then there it was. It felt like waves, gently hitting and then receding from the shore before a big one comes crashing down. Or maybe the unnecessary fullness ebbed and I was just hungry all over again.

I craved for it. I craved for budbod like it was nobody’s business. The beef, pork, egg and rice. I wanted to stuff my face all over again.

The lag was very unusual (and funny in a cosmic sort of way). But it doesn’t matter anymore because I fully understand what Yedy and Eugene were talking about. It may have taken me a few hours to get it but I did. What happened? What sorcery is this?

It doesn’t really matter all that much anymore. Rationalizations, excuses, delays, all of it is miniscule. All that matters is that bowl of rice is calling out to me. It’s been more than a week since we went to Angono and writing this made me crave for it all over again.

If my feet and appetite would lead me back to that table again so I could make amends with that bowl of rice so delicious, I’d say every thing is right in the world. Even just for a moment.

Budbod is deceptively simple and unassuming, that much is true. Isn’t the best food of our visceral childhood memories always the simplest?
 photo P1570963_zpscb78e4c8.jpg

Advertisements

100 Revolving Restaurant: a room with a view

I looked out and admired the view. It’s not exactly breathtaking to appraise traffic like it was a long congested line of ants.  I tilted my head upwards just a little bit so the concrete jungle is obscured. There were birds and the sky was clear. Now that was a sight.

Then I had a feeling at the pit of my stomach. I could feel the movement of the platform at the fringes of the restaurant. So it does move. It’s not really jarring, but I was queasy to begin with so it took me a while to get used to the movement. At that time of my first visit, it took two hours to complete one revolution. The revolution at the time of my second visit was faster by thirty minutes.
 photo P1550314_zps147a9f25.jpg
That’s the first thing you notice at 100, the restaurant with iconic Chef Jessie Sincioco at the helm. She has a flair for grandiosity. The space is easy on the eyes as well. The menu is refined, but strangely enough it’s not as uptight as I thought it was going to be.
 photo P1550174_zps17c03dc8.jpg
 photo P1550177_zps30919453.jpg

And they make good bread. Really good bread.
 photo P1550195_zpsb7aafd0e.jpg
Between the kesong puti salad and the alugbati (which uses fresh, not blanched nightshade), the uncomplicated and familiar flavors of the former drew me in.
 photo P1550199_zpsfc929fa4.jpg
 photo P1550212_zps7224f5d1.jpg
It was a good “caprese” salad, but when the ceasar came out, that was my favorite. It had prawn popcorn, bacon bits over hearts of romaine. It was a good start.
 photo P1550205new_zpsea220292.jpg
The dragon maki was hefty enough to be a meal in itself with its shrimp tempura on the inside, and then sprinkled with tempura bits and rich mayonnaise. I’m still learning to use chopsticks properly, and if you see me wield it you’ll notice my hand trembles. But for this maki I’ll brave the tremors.
 photo P1550246_zpsb96254e9.jpg
 photo P1550224_zpsd27acc22.jpg
 photo P1550249_zps54051df2.jpg
The vegetable maki was a surprise! I did not expect that I would enjoy it as well. It’s a notch lower in taste compared to its prawn counterpart, but I still appreciated it.

This sea bass is incredibly delicious. For the price, is it worth the trouble? I’d say yes. It’s drenched in a savory and sweet miso base and gives way to perfectly cooked flesh that holds it shape but it’s still very tender. Yes and yes.
 photo P1550280_zpscdf48c89.jpg
 photo P1550292_zps6bafa0a5.jpg

There’s also shrimp curry and beef roulade, but the seafood gambas is stellar. A medley of fruits of the sea drenched in punchy tomato sauce fits the bill of a good plate of ingredients cooked with respect.
 photo P1550874_zps59535ae1.jpg
 photo P1550281_zps6b5d8d79.jpg
 photo P1550286_zps9a9e92cd.jpg
But the others aren’t rubbish at all! I fact, almost everything that was served to us was great. I’d just like to single out a few things that really stood out.

And I could sing songs about Chef Jessie’s desserts.
 photo P1550305_zps5b2a0123.jpg
But it’s in a moment of silence that my real appreciation creeps in. I close my eyes and just marvel at how I love a good dessert. In this case, I loved almost everything that was served.

It’s this souffle that made me smile the most. How can something be so light yet so rich? This is a soaring tribute to all things good in life. I am not exaggerating.
 photo P1550317_zps9c067275.jpg
 photo P1550321_zps1a0b6429.jpg
One of my guilty pleasures is peanut butter. But I don’t really enjoy cheesecakes that much anymore because it’s like I’m falling into a pit of heavy flavours that never really take off. With peanut butter however, I can make an exception.
 photo P1550302_zps6d4df742.jpg
The revolving tortas are little dense cakes filled with flavoured cream and topped with fruit. At this point I was already coming down from a souffle high but I still made room for this.
 photo P1550293_zps2b35a54a.jpg
For some strange reason souffle isn’t on your mind, this works. There’s also a delicious chocolate caramel cake that works for lovers of chocolate, but competing for attention against the souffle and tortas is hard.

100 is a posh gem. I’d like to believe you pay not just for the elegant (but also uncomplicated) food but for the great view as well. Who wouldn’t feel good dining with Manila’s shifting skyline as the backdrop?

Right now there are two reasons that compel me to go back: a chance to dine at night, to appreciate pinpricks of light all over the horizon and of course, the souffles. I love their souffles.

100 Revolving Restaurant
33rd Floor, MDC 100 Building, C5 corner Eastwood Drive, Quezon City
+632 962-1016

 

An Easier Boeuf Bourguignon

There’s this really amazing food blog that constantly fills my google reader with almost daily posts – Ang Sarap. That in itself is a feat because the voice behind it, Raymund, a fellow Filipino residing in New Zealand, is a working man whereas yours truly is currently bumming around (that’ll all change SOON) and I can’t even muster up the gumption to post frequently lately. His blog is filled with recipes I wouldn’t mind trying every single day, so early on I was sold.

Ang Sarap is currently hosting guest posts from food bloggers all around the world, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of that tight circle. My guest post is currently up on his site, so you might want to check it out.
Photobucket

Before I left for Manila I made Boeuf Bourguignon for a cozy dinner among friends. A few hours prior, I was staring in front of the black hole that is my pantry, trying to figure out what to cook. I’ve been known to hoard ingredients that I don’t get to use often. So sifting through everything was a challenge. Making a simplified version of Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon was always at the back of my mind. The last time I made it was for Christmas lunch, which was a hit with the family.

This time, I stripped it down until I was left with the core ingredients of beef and wine, and whatever remotely related to bourguignon was left in the fridge and pantry found its way into the pan.
Photobucket
(excerpt from the guest post)

But is what I made still Boeuf Bourguignon? I implore you to never second-guess this dish! Bourguignon or not, it’s still something incredibly special.

This still requires a few hours in the oven to cook, BUT if you ask me, I think cooking this in a pressure cooker for an hour would do the trick. I would do that eventually once I get my hands on a pressure cooker. Sometimes what we would do at home is to pressure cook the raw beef then place it in a container and just leave it in the fridge. When we need it for quick soups or stews, then it’s good to go!

I stumbled on a goldmine when I dotted the dish with butter before I placed it in the oven. Your kitchen will thank you. For a servant-less Filipino cook like me, this might as well be godsend. 

I wish I could make this dish soon but the tiny kitchen I have right now is making it a challenge. I’m still in the process of easing myself into this new lifestyle in the big city so you might notice that it’s been quiet here at THG lately. But because Manila’s food culture is amazing, you might see more of what I ate than what I cooked.

But for now, with a spoonful of nostalgia and homesickness, here it is….Boeuf Bourguignon 2.0
Photobucket

An Easier Boeuf Bourguignon (serves 3 – 4)

  • 500 grams beef rib eye
  • 115 grams canned whole or sliced button mushroom
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 1 beef broth cube dissolved in 1 ½ cup hot water
  • ¾ cup red wine (use wine that you would drink)
  • 6 bacon strips, roughly chopped
  • ½ tablespoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 teaspoons all purpose flour
  • Small cubes of butter

In a large nonstick pan, heat olive oil over medium heat then add the bacon. Fry until fat renders. Remove the bacon and set aside. Pat the beef dry with paper towels. Season one side with salt and pepper. Using tongs, place the rib eye on the pan, seasoned side down. Season with salt and pepper the side facing up. Cook both sides until it starts to brown. Remove from pan and set aside. In the same pan, sauté the onions until limp. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 30 more seconds. Using the spatula, nudge the onions and mushrooms to the sides of the pan, and then add back the beef and the bacon. Add the beef broth water and the wine. Season with thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle in the flour and gently mix everything together.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the pan in the oven and allow to cook for 2 – 3 hours or until beef is tender. Remove from the oven and adjust the taste to your preference. Serve warm with rice or buttered toast and enjoy!

Emperor’s Beef Stew

Photobucket

I’m halfway done with The Girl Who Played With Fire, a novel with as much grit as the first novel that I’m left dumbfounded how I never picked up the series earlier. Suffice to say I have time on my hands, because Mindanao (the large island in the Philippines where my city, Zamboanga, is located) has been going through a power crisis that has apparently pushed it a few hundred steps backwards and into the dark ages, literally. When I’m not doing anything productive (which is most of the time), I read.

And I’m enjoying this laziness a lot – too much apparently that I’m relying on spontaneity to determine what to cook and what to blog about. Time is definitely divided, and I’m actually pretty glad I don’t have to fuss over this little blog too much. Not that fussing over something is inherently bad – but in my case, it has sometimes been counterproductive and counterintuitive.
Photobucket

Have you ever used a pressure cooker?

(My off-tangent paragraph flow construction amazes me)

I’ve recently made friends with it. Usually it’s my dad who uses it and he always talks about how improper usage will literally kill you. No joke. According to him, opening it without releasing the pressure will apparently cause an explosion. I’ve been perusing youtube for evidence to support his claim, but I realized that even if that were true, I’m not stupid enough to mishandle it in any way.
Photobucket

The point is, because I fear for my life – that little noisy spindle on top of the pressure cooker lid needs to be lifted in order to release the pressure before I open it. Because the heat is scalding, I use tongs to lift the spindle. I haven’t died yet.

The pressure cooker does wonders to soften tough cuts of meat. We usually use it to soften beef in less than an hour. I had a surplus of beef shanks that were used for soup last Sunday. I was thinking of making it into Osso Buco, but a little Del Monte recipe postcard latched onto our fridge door by ref magnets caught my eye. It seemed easy enough, and I wanted to get back to my reading as soon as possible, so I decided to give it a try. Osso Buco would have to wait.
Photobucket

The stew itself is savory and hearty, with hints of rice wine, hoisin, soy, and oyster sauce. The sweetness from the pineapples (It’s a Del Monte recipe after all) tempers the saltiness, resulting in something that’s almost like ‘endulsado’ (pork stewed/cooked in soy sauce and sugar), but not quite there yet. That’s a good thing, because endulsado can be cloyingly sweet.

This stew doesn’t need to beg to be wolfed down; it’s just natural to help yourself to a few more servings. Well, at least that’s what I did. I’m not ashamed.
Photobucket

Emperor’s Beef Stew (serves 4 – 6)

  • ½ cup chopped white onions
  • Half a garlic bulb, minced
  • 1 to 2 pieces dried laurel/bay leaves
  • Freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1 to 1 ½   kg beef shanks, cooked and softened in a pressure cooker (make sure to read manufacturer’s instructions)
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • A scant ¼ cup rice wine or gin
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 2 pouches Del Monte Pineapple tidbits (115 grams each)
  1.  In a pot large enough to hold the beef, sauté onions, garlic, bay leaves and pepper in oil. Add the beef and sauté until lightly brown.
  2. Add oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine and water. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes to soften the beef more.
  3. Add the pineapple tidbits with the syrup and cook for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and serve warm with rice. Enjoy!

Boeuf/Beef Bourguignon

Like I said, this has been a long time coming.
Photobucket

I’ll be one of the thousands to admit that the only reason I know that somebody like Julia Child has walked the face of this earth was because of Julie and Julia, a movie that I watched and enjoyed almost a year ago. Although Meryl Streep did steal Amy Adams’ thunder, Adams paints a picture of an endearing and relatable Julie Powell. Devoting a year cooking your way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking isn’t easy but Julie did persevere and the effects of her sojourn were life changing.

I’ll also be the first to admit that this is my first attempt at something remotely French. Boeuf Bourguignon is a big word and in my head, was an even bigger task to accomplish. It was a challenge that I gave to myself simply because making a pot of beef cooked in red wine held so much meaning. I told myself that if I could make something that Julia Child made, then I could cook anything. Yes, sometimes I do swim in delusions. But I held on to this ambition for a long time. A year to be exact. Christmas was the perfect excuse to finally scale Mt. Julia Child.
Photobucket

Although this dish has a lot of components and techniques involved, from an amateur’s standpoint: IT IS DOABLE.

I wanted to give myself breathing space while making this recipe. God knows the chaos that might have taken over if I tried to make everything on Christmas morning. So on Christmas Eve I started by frying the beef and the bacon. That gave me enough time to put everything together just in time for Christmas lunch the following day. I didn’t strangle myself because of stress so I must have done something right.
Photobucket

I’d like to believe that to create a bowl of Beef Bourguignon takes patience. The techniques are doable but for an amateur, might be overwhelming (hence the breathing space). Patience is key because the preparation is slightly meticulous. Maybe that’s just me screaming for this dish to work.

And it did. On Christmas day, I gave myself a really really really delicious gift. I managed to cross out one entry off my bucket list. The hours of slaving were worth it. Extremely worth it.
Photobucket

As opposed to how I described the preparation as complicated, sinking your teeth into the soft beef slathered with thick wine sauce is very uncomplicated. It tasted amazing, and everything just makes perfect sense. The beef was fork tender and slightly smoky. The sauce had a distinct bold taste of wine, but slightly tempered by the different flavors and aromatics. The flavors did not try to upstage each other. Everything just melded together perfectly.

It was only this year that my love affair with cooking really began to simmer. But my love for food has always been there ever since I was young. In the same way that Boeuf Bourguignon is French, food has always been a part of me. Allowing my inner foodie to really grow using this platform has already been awesome. Allowing myself opportunities to grow as a foodie and food blogger has probably been one of the best gifts I (un)consciously gave myself.
Photobucket

This chance for me bask in Julia Child’s lingering shadow as robust as the Boeuf Bourguignon, even for a nanosecond…well, I have to give myself a pat on the back for that.

There’s nothing French about eating this with rice, but since it was a Filipino Christmas  and this dish is as rustic as it gets, rice and Boeuf Bourguignon were perfect together. 
Photobucket
Boeuf/Beef Bourguignon (serves 10 – 12)

  • 200 grams bacon (half of a 400 gram pack), sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 lbs/2 kilograms beef cut into 2-inch cubes, patted dry with paper towels
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large white onions, sliced
  • 2 medium sized carrots, sliced
  • 1 bottle (around 3 cups/750ml) of red wine (use a wine you would drink)
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes dissolved in 2 – 3 cups warm water
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 3 large cloves of smashed garlic
  • Beurre manié: 3 Tbsp flour blended to a paste with 2 Tbsp butter
  • 24 pearl onions (I used around 8 small shallots/red onions)
  • Chicken stock (I used half a chicken bouillon cube dissolved in 1 cup water)
  • Butter
  • 3 cans button mushrooms (pieces and stems, 115 grams drained)
  1. Blanch the bacon to remove its smoky taste: Drop bacon slices 4 cups of cold water, bring to a boil, and simmer 6 to 8 minutes. Drain, rinse  in cold water, and dry on paper towels.
  2. In a large frying pan, sauté the blanched bacon to brown slightly in a little oil; set them aside and add later to simmer with the beef, using the rendered fat in browning.
  3. Brown the chunks of beef on all sides in the bacon fat and olive oil, season with salt and pepper. You may want to do this in batches. Once done, put them into a large oven-safe covered casserole pan. Add in the bacon as well.
  4. If you want to use an oven to cook the beef, preheat it to 180 C/356 F.
  5. Remove all but a little fat from the frying pan, add the sliced vegetables and brown them, and add to the meat.
  6. Deglaze the pan used to fry the meat and vegetables by pouring wine into the pan and using a wooden spoon, scraping off the crusty pieces at the bottom. Most of the crusty pieces (and flavor) will mix with the wine.
  7. Pour it into the casserole along with enough stock to almost cover the meat.
  8. Stir in the tomatoes and add the bay leaf, thyme, cloves and garlic.
  9. Bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer slowly on the lowest heat possible, either on the stove or in a preheated 325°F oven, until the meat is tender, about 1 to 2 hours. (visual here)
  10. While the stew is cooking, prepare the onions: Blanch the onions in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking. Slice the end tips off of the onions and peel the onions. Sauté onions in a single layer in a tablespoon or two of butter until lightly browned. Add chicken stock or water half way up the sides of the onions. Add a teaspoon of sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer slowly for 25 minutes or until tender. The onions should absorb most of the water. If there is water remaining after cooking, drain the excess. Set aside.
  11. Prepare the mushrooms a few minutes before serving the stew. Sauté quartered mushrooms in a few tablespoons of butter and olive oil until browned and cooked through.
  12. When the stew meat has cooked sufficiently, remove all solids from the sauce (except the beef) by draining through a colander set over a saucepan. (visual here)
  13. Return the beef to the casserole.
  14. Then remove any visible fat from the strained liquid and boil it down to 3 cups.
  15. Remove from heat, whisk in the beurre manié, then simmer for 2 minutes as the sauce thickens lightly.
  16. Adjust the taste of the sauce to your preference by adding a dash or two of sugar, salt and pepper.
  17. Pour over the meat, folding in the onions and mushrooms.
  18.  To serve, bring to a simmer, basting meat and vegetables with the sauce for several minutes until hot throughout. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Photobucket

Feast your eyes on…

Today’s Christmas day here in the Philippines. Let me just put it out there that nobody can topple a Filipino Christmas! Sure, almost every culture that celebrates Christmas puts emphasis on family and togetherness and good tidings, but the happy chaos that comes with the territory of a Filipino holiday spread is incomparable.

In our family, it has been almost a tradition of sorts to expect a lot of people for Christmas lunch. By “a lot of people” I mean my grandmother’s extended (and I use that loosely) family PLUS their respective posse is usually in full attendance. The general flow usually goes like this: the people gather around the buffet table to say grace and a few minutes later, it’s most likely that grandma would order a refill of the dishes. We had lechon (roast pig) this year and she was fighting tooth and nail (I kid) to save the head for her other friends who haven’t showed up yet, but to no avail. The lechon didn’t stand a chance.
Photobucket
Photobucket
Our dishes aren’t really “special”. By special I mean, those dishes prepared using classy technique or expensive ingredients. Because we literally feed a crowd, it’s best to go back to the basics: macaroni salad, estofado (pork stewed in tomato sauce and potatoes), fried chicken, leche flan, valenciana (sticky rice with meat and chorizo – like paella but without the color and seafood), pancit sotanghon, chop suey and lechon. Don’t forget the rice! A river of rice.

The fare is still special, but not “special”. We’ll save the “special” fare for the New Year.
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
But I did take a page out of Julia Child’s cookbook.
Photobucket
Beef with wine?

Yes, you guessed right. I made Boeuf/Beef Bourguignon! Making this is momentous for me because this has been a long time (a year really) coming (!).

Photobucket
It’s just too bad my internet connection’s going crazy. When I connect my modem to my router it doesn’t get a signal, but when I connect my modem to my pc it works. So there’s no wireless connection. And…I hope I made sense there. But Christmas goes on! (falalalala!)

I’ll probably post the recipe tomorrow, and blog about it in detail. But for now, it’s a silent and peaceful night for me. One of the best gifts I’ll probably give myself this Christmas…. is a good night’s sleep. Happy holidays everyone!

Pressure (Beef Caldereta)

Google “pressure cooker deaths” and you might read at least one incident where obviously, somebody died because of a pressure cooker.

Growing up, I’ve heard a lot of weird stories from my dad and grandfather, mostly about ghosts and pressure cookers (yeah). I can vividly remember my grandfather telling me a tragic story of a couple about to get married. The girl, dutiful and loving, was cooking a meal for her husband-to-be using her pressure cooker. But for some reason it exploded and the force was strong enough to send the pieces flying in all directions, and the girl was impaled. She died. The end. Yeah in retrospect this story sounds bizarre and twistedly funny.

Well, the point I’m trying to drive at, as you probably already guessed, is that kitchen appliances can be freakishly deadly in a Final Destination sort of way.

Paranoia aside, today I did use the pressure cooker and I didn’t die. Handling it was tricky because my dad treats it like a child ready to scream. To prevent any accidents, he turns off the heat and waits a few minutes to let the pressure ease out. Then he brings the whole thing to the sink and places it under running water. He slowly pulls the whistling nozzle (whatever it is) to further release the pressure. Once the nozzle doesn’t whistle anymore, it’s safe to open. It’s not exactly rocket science but we can categorize it together with the intricacies of dismantling explosives.

But whatever it took to calm the pressure cooker down, I got to make really really good Caldereta today.

Kaldereta/Caldereta, according to a packet of instant Caldereta mix (which I didn’t use!) is a dish of Spanish origin, derived from the Spanish word “caldero” which means cooking pot. This savory dish is prepared with one’s choice of beef, chicken or goat meat stewed in tomato sauce and selected spices.

I got this recipe from The Best of Food Magazine. It’s Food Magazine’s compilation cookbook of their favorite/best recipes. The Chicken Donburi and Siopao I made also came from Food Magazine. They don’t have a website, which is peculiar since they’ve been in circulation since 1995-1996. And they also have a digital version available for the ipad, but no website. Really really weird.

Their caldereta recipe calls for pork liver broiled and mashed. Liver, along with calamansi (Philippine lemon) are two food items I can’t really stomach. There was no way in hell I’m putting a kilo (!) of pork liver in the caldereta. So I just used canned liver spread. ( Right now there’s no use arguing my logic ok? That’s just how I roll )

The preparation is pretty straightforward: boil/pressure cook the meat and make the sauce then put the two together. That’s it. Amazing tender beef swimming in rich, thick tomato sauce.

Beef Caldereta (serves 8 – 10 )

  • 2 kilos stewing beef, cut into cubes
  • enough water to cover the meat in a pressure cooker
  • seven 85-gram cans of liver spread
  • 1 block (180 grams) processed cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 cups tomato sauce (I used Italian style spaghetti sauce instead)
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 large red bell peppers, sliced lengthwise into thin strips
  • 1 cup pitted green olives
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 head of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 large white onions, sliced
  • 1 chorizo bilbao, sliced
  1. Put beef in a pressure cooker (or large casserole) and pour enough water to cover. Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until beef is tender. When the meat is done, discard/remove the remaining water.
  2. Combine liver spread with cheese, tomato sauce, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, bell peppers and green olives. Stir until smooth. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, heat olive oil ans saute garlic, onions and chorizo bilbao. Stir in liver mixture and simmer for about 15 minutes or until mixture turns lighter in color.
  4. Pour liver mixture into beef in the casserole/pressure cooker and simmer for 15 minutes or until mixture thickens and beef is complete tender. You don’t need to pressure cook it. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!